Recently the MWF met with the Minister of Conservation and Climate – The Honourable Sarah Guillemard and her staff. In attendance were MWF Managing Director – Carly Deacon and Executive Committee Members Pam Robins and Cam Neurenberg.
One of the highest priorities for this meeting was to introduce the Minister and her staff to the MWF. We outlined our structure, our objectives and our willingness to collaborate with her department to help fulfill Provincial priorities outlined in the mandate letter.
The MWF emphasized the broad range of folks that make up our membership from landowners, Ag producers, anglers, hunters, trappers, conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts, and shared with the Minister some of the work we do in the province from advocacy, Hunter Education, mentorship programs and programs for women, youth and families. Most importantly, we talked about our lifestyle and our passion to pass our knowledge and traditions forward to endorse healthy living, connection with the food chain, mental health and wellness. As well as our respect for the officers on the ground protecting our wildlife and our traditions.
In addition, MWF’s position and recommendations on the following topics were discussed:
1) Strategic Plan for Enforcement in Manitoba
In normal circumstances we would request filling vacant staff positions as a solution. However, under the current provincial Covid-19 pandemic, we understand the economic crisis the Province is up against and the feasibility of investing money into new hires is not possible. Thus, MWF proposed the following:
• Establish a working group to help fulfill the departments mandate: “Working with your colleague, the Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development, to focus our enforcement efforts on the most serious environmental, fish and wildlife infractions, and introducing innovative enforcement practices.”
• MWF suggested that this working group can focus on strategic planning and prioritization for enforcement and find ways for our enforcement officers to be more effective on the ground (reintroduce roadside checks and night flights for spot lighting enforcement).
• The Minister and her staff responded positively to this idea and will reach out to the Federation in the near future to help initiate and take part in this development. MWF would essentially sit at the working group table, representing our 110 Affiliate clubs and members.
2) SnoMan Pass
• Our constituency of members are primarily hunters, trappers and anglers. Many of which own snowmobiles but do not use the SnoMan trail network. Our MWF members should not have to subsidize riders that utilize the trails, or financially support an organization that does not directly benefit their interests or lifestyles. MWF documented our opposition to the Minister for this pass. If the Province is considering this proposal, then we have asked for an exemption be granted to anglers, hunters and trappers that do not use the trail network.
3) 4 Lakes Proposal
• Manitoba Wildlife Federation expressed support for the 4-Lakes proposal to the Minister with the caveat that there be no further restrictions placed upon hunters (e.g. 300m buffers) on either side of the designated trails. MWF calculated that under current regulations hunters would lose in the area of 42 square km of hunting grounds specific to formalizing the proposed 4 Lakes 4 Wheelers proposal. Hunters currently utilize much of the existing trail network to hunt upland game birds, whitetail deer, as well as providing access to the 4 lakes migratory game bird hunting grounds, all the while sharing the trails with current ATV users. This has been the practice for many years. MWF has been in contact with Eastern Region Wildlife Branch personnel and their assessment is that all the aforementioned species populations are stable with the exception of Canada Geese, in which the population has exploded. The Wildlife Branch also reports that the moose population within the trail network system is stable. MWF commends the 4 Lakes 4 Wheelers membership on their pro-active approach to trail development within Manitoba Provincial Parks, with an emphasis on shared usage with other interests.
4) Status of Nopiming Park Plan
• The current draft management plan is not user friendly for hunters and anglers. MWF encouraged the department to review the Nopiming – Manigitogan Provincial Parks Draft Management Plans, incorporating the recommendations provided by hunting, trapping, outdoor enthusiasts and industry to create a balanced approach to Park Management. MWF is of the position that finalization of these park plans take place prior to the next provincial election. MWF committed to partnering with the Department of Conservation and Climate on any strategic initiatives that enhance Manitobans outdoor experience and opportunity.